When a person suffers an injury caused by the negligence of another party, they may have a cause of action to bring forth a personal injury lawsuit against that party, thereby seeking to hold them liable for damages. Car accidents, slip and fall accidents that occur on others' properties, and more may all warrant personal injury suits.
But sometimes, the party to blame is not an individual person or private company; indeed, sometimes, the at-fault party is a government entity or a government employee. When this is the case, it is possible to bring a claim against the state of Colorado or its entities in certain situations, although special rules apply. Here's what you need to know:
When You Can Bring Forth a Claim Against the Government in Colorado
Sovereign immunity is a legal theory that means that a state is immune from liability when injuries to an individual occur. As found in 24-10-106 - Immunity and Partial Waiver of Colorado Revised Statutes, the state has waived its sovereign immunity, and therefore it and its public entities can be sued for damages, when injuries to another party result from:
- The operation of a motor vehicle that is owned or leased by the public entity, and is being operated by a public entity employee at the time the accident occurs (with the exception of emergency vehicles);
- The operation of a public hospital, jail, or correctional facility;
- A dangerous condition of any public building;
- A dangerous condition that exists on a public road, highway, or street;
- A dangerous condition caused by the failure of the city to remove the accumulation of snow or ice from public walkways; and
- A dangerous condition caused by failure to repair, replace, or maintain a stop sign, yield sign, or traffic control signal.
How to Bring Forth a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you have suffered an injury caused by one of the accident types/dangerous conditions listed above, you may be able to recover damages from the government by filing a personal injury suit. However, it is important to note that the rules for bringing your suit are different than are the rules for filing a claim against a private individual.
As the law continues to read (C.R.S. Section 24-10-109), a person who believes that they have a course of action against a public entity and intends to bring forth a claim for damages must file a written notice within 182 days after the date of discovery of the injury (which is typically the same date as the accident). If the person fails to file a notice of claim within the required time frame, this failure "shall forever bar" them from bringing forth an action.
Working with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Denver
With the exception of the information provided above, holding a public entity liable for damages after an accident follows the same process as if the public entity were a private person (the plaintiff must prove duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages).
At the law offices of Anderson Hemmat our experienced Denver personal injury attorneys are here to guide you through all elements of a successful claim against the government, and assist you in recovering your full compensation amount. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at (303) 782-9999, or tell us a little bit about your situation using our online form.